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The Daily Tar Heel

Armory Could Get Historic Standing

Official: Status won't stop demolition.

The North Carolina Register added the 60-year-old building to its study list last week, which allows it to be considered by the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Naval Armory and Venable Hall, are scheduled to be demolished in 2005 to make way for a new $186 million science complex.

The complex will be a multipurpose building with a parking deck, office research space and a science library.

Mel Ahle, FNOA president, said the next step FNOA will take is to fill out the application for the national registry. FNOA will not know if the Armory makes it onto the list until August 2003.

But Paul Kapp, campus historic preservation manager, said the University will have the final say in the demolition of the Armory because it owns the building.

"The National Register is an honorary designation, and federal law, more so than state law, always asks the owner to stop, look and listen before destroying historic integrity," Kapp said. "But if that doesn't go through, the government can't stop the University from tearing (the Armory) down."

Kapp said he thinks there is a misunderstanding about the power of the National Register.

"I think a lot of people think of historical preservation not as a tool but as a weapon," Kapp said. "I believe there is a misunderstanding about what it does."

Ahle said that although the request began as a response to the ROTC's indignation about being relocated, it has changed into something more. She said the alumni are particularly happy about the progress made in preserving the building.

"When we first started it was our brash reaction to not having a building," Ahle said. "Now, having talked to the alumni, we realize how much more it means to them than it could possibly mean to us."

Jonathan Howes, director of the Master Plan, said the Armory was discussed when the Master Plan -- the campus's blueprint for long-term growth, which includes the science complex -- was crafted, but it was deemed less important than the potential benefits provided by the new science complex.

"We had a discussion about the building and its special place on campus," Howes said. "There is an emotional attachment there, there's no doubt about that, but the needs for additional space for the science complex override the emotional attachments."

Howes said the Master Plan does not contain any alternate plans to put in place if the Armory does qualify as a national historic place.

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